How my hackerspace was structured

Greetings, fellow humans! Some people may have noticed a lack of FOSS-y contributions from me over the last year or so. A lot of that time went towards running the first full year of SYNHAK, the Hackerspace in Akron, OH that I helped found in 2011.

As it began to grow and take off, my interests in FOSS moved towards the infrastructure that actually makes a Hackerspace tick. Hackerspaces are wonderful things: autonomous collections of people where even the organization structure itself is designed to be resiliant and hackable. From the outset, I wanted SYNHAK to have a minimal bus factor. Being the first person to come with any kind of workable plan and convince some others to help it out, I had a significant hand in constructing the foundations that we maintain today.

Before SYNHAK, I was very involved in KDE and Linux spheres for a good number of years. FOSS is an amazing environment for new ideas to sprout and take hold, and a lot of that is due to the infrastructure supporting it: the tools, public and open documentation, instantly hackable sources, community governance, and more. I wanted to bring that to SYNHAK. I feel that for the most part, it has been highly successful on all of those fronts. I would argue that SYNHAK bears the right to be called an Open Source Hackerspace.

Forking SYNHAK

SYNHAK's infrastructure is easily forkable. You can have your own local copy of SYNHAK up and running in a day, if you've got the time. I drew a lot of my design decisions from the FOSS world. Almost all of SYNHAK is available online in git. The rest is in a wiki. We are incredibly transparent with heaps of documentation, discussion, and documentation of discussion.

In particular, the ideas I brought from FOSS were:

  • The community governs itself
  • Release early, release often
  • Transparency in operations
  • If it didn't happen on the mailing list, it didn't happen
  • Meritocracy

Over the next few days, I will be publishing a series of articles I wrote on the various pieces of infrastructure I contributed to for SYNHAK during it's first two full years of existence in an attempt to build an open source hackerspace from the ground up.